The Aran Islands will form part of an EU study to see if hydrogen can be produced using renewable energy to power cars, boats and heat buildings.
The €3.5m project led by NUI Galway will also see construction of a hydrogen plant on the Canary Islands, where up to 25kg of hydrogen gas a day will be produced, sufficient to power up to 10 commercially-available cars with a maximum range of 600km.
The hydrogen will be generated using seawater and solar panels, and if successful, similar plants could be installed in offshore and isolated communities, including the Aran Islands.
The project is also being piloted in Madeira in Portugal.
Seafuel project lead, Dr Pau Farràs Costa from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, said the project was aimed at establishing a business model to help offshore communities reduce energy imports.
“The plan for the project is to study if this model is a viable business model to export to other places within the islands and other regions,” he said.
“The Aran Islands already has electric vehicles, and we are looking at other possibilities including heat, but also for boats and ferries. We are focused on the islands because they are so dependent on imports.
“This is a carbon-free fuel which will be good for the island and will break the dependency.”
Hydrogen is used to power vehicles in parts of the US, Japan and Germany, and a number of manufacturers have commercially-available cars including Toyota, which only emit water. Japan plans to create an emission-free ‘hydrogen society’ over time.
BY: PAUL MELIA